August 1967 and September 1967. So, there is one more year to finish United States air assault operation “Rolling Thunder” which has started in March 2, 1965. When the operation began, there were three main purposes.
-put pressure on the North Vietnamese leadership and force him to give up fighting in South Vietnam
-destroy North Vietnam’s transport system to obstruct the transfer of military materials in South Vietnam
-provide psychological support for the South Vietnamese government
However, when the operation was finished, in November 2 1968, it turned out that Operation «Rolling Thunder» was the longest bombing campaign after the World War II. As result, about 200,000 civilian Vietnamese died. United States casualties, not civilian, 1,084 died, captured, or missing and 938 aircraft lost, during in these 1930 days.
North-Vietnam pilot Nguyen Nhat Trieu in the first photo, was a child of a poor family. Even if his surname is Trieu, (Trieu is a name of a dynasty in Vietnam and it is very common) he was not rich. He completed his first education in difficulty, and then he enlisted in the army. He had received training to use Mig-21 at Krasnodar Higher Military Aviation School, Soviet Union in 1966, with other colleagues selected for pilot training. He started to use MiG-21 as from 7 July 1966. Before this date, he was using MiG-17. And his first successful shot has been July 11, 1966. F-105D “Thunderchief” (Wi. No. 61-0121, 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron US Air Force) shot down by him. F-105D fell on the territory of Laos as a result of consuming the fuel. US pilot was saved.
The reason for the publication of this photo is the events, what happened at the day, August 23, 1967. That day, in August 23, 1967, he shot total of 6 aircraft down, including 4 Phantom, 2 Thunderchief.
Let’s see what is writing under the first photo; with English translations.
“Nguyen Nhat Trieu shot six US-Eng aircraft down. He won his victory on August 23, 1967 over the sea. Americana has considered that F-105D was hit by anti-aircraft missile, not K-13; Nguyen did was revealed with the MiG-21. Shortly after, comrade Trieu fired 20 mm gun of MiG-21 accidentally; Vietnamese Nguyen Nhat Trieu was knocked down.”
His life was filled with true success. He struggled that one more civilian Vietnamese should not die. He fought for that the public doesn’t poison with Agent Orange or others in the air raids. Maybe one more Vietnamese child wasn’t lost with the reason of his fight. Perhaps, under favour of him and the brave Vietnamese heroes, the number about 200,000 death toll, which is pronounced like very few, hasn’t further increased…
Second hero at the second photo; she was just an unnamed girl.
Vietnamese people did not have the opportunity to make their advertising in dozens of daily newspapers. The number of people, who can see the photos where came from the battle front, was very few. Did you say psychological operations? Yes, maybe, if a little girl is seen to have taken hostage to one US officer, who was in US forces attack, this could affect them.
Let’s see again what is writing under the second photo; with English translations.
“17 September 1967. The reconnaissance plane RF-4C, wing-No:65-0894, of the 11th Intelligence Squadron 432nd Tactical Wing scouting the US Air Force, was shot down off 25 miles south west of Hanoi. The crew of Major John Edward Stavast and 1st Lt. Gerald S. Venanzi were ejected. The picture shows a girl escorting 1st Lieutenant Gerald S. Venanzi.”
It is unknown what happened to this little girl. Already she is unnamed. But it is clear that her looks fearless. In fact, to survive in the war in so many year, is related with this, isn’t it?
The captured person at the photo is John Edward Stavast, who was a pilot United States Air Force. After he was captured, he spent 5 and half years as prisoner in Hanoi. After he released in March 14, 1973, he returned to army, but not active. And two years later, war is over.
Those happened in Vietnam were not a heroism racing. Looking at three persons in two photos, this unnamed girl is one of real hero of public is understood. Because, after a while looking at these pictures, only she is sticking in the mankind’s minds. Two fighter pilots at one side; a little girl, who is holding gun fearlessly at the other side. It appears that if you can find the strength to challenge to the occupation which is made unjustly, you don’t need a name to be a hero.
To all unnamed heroes in Vietnam War, with respect…
These Photos were published in Russian Air warfare magazine No: 22
That issue subject: mig-21, Military Applications in Vietnam